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Is forced fetching the only way to guarantee a reliable retrieve to hand?
By: Thomas Aaron
Forced fetching has become a deeply entrenched method for training gun dogs to retrieve. Many claims are made about its effectiveness – some downright mythical. For example, a quick Google search for forced fetching will unearth (un-web?) many claims that are some flavor of “forced fetching is the only way to guarantee a reliable retrieve to hand.”
British Training for American Retrievers is a good read, peppered with British Humor and filled with expert advice from highly credentialed British gun dog trainer, Vic Barlow.
From the perspective of a positive gun dog trainer, of whom there are relatively few, Mr. Barlow takes a refreshingly anti-shock collar stance on training gun dogs. He also shuns the use of "forced fetching." Instead, he advocates slow, methodical, quality training and incremental increases in criteria to develop a rock-solid hunting dog. He also insists on building a respect-based relationship between the dog and trainer/owner/handler -- a relationship in which success is rewarded and infractions are addressed.
As is my custom, when I find myself teaching clients a particular lesson over and over, I immortalize the lesson in writing. So, here goes ...
Pretty much every dog I train has some sort of behavior "problem." I enclose "problem" in quotation marks because that is what humans call it ... but that's rarely what it actually is. More accurately, the "problem" is just a simple dog behavior, such as chewing, barking, jumping up on people, nipping, whining, etc. Those are "problems" for us, but they are just ... what dogs do.
A new client recently asked me why he should pursue positive, reward-based training over a more punishment-based method. To be honest, I really appreciate questions like that.
It is easy for positive reinforcement trainers to assume clients are already committed proponents of dog-friendly training. But they often call us simply because they saw our advertisement or because a friend referred them to us.
Nobody promised me a rose garden, but sometimes I wish someone would have. Life has been stressful lately: teenager issues, running a business, multiple projects with tight deadlines, financial obligations -- you know, the same junk you deal with. But when life is stressful, I put on a happy face, work hard and try not to burden others with it.
However, my wife knows me well enough to tell when I am stressed, and she admonishes me to lighten my load, breathe and stop driving like a moron. But you probably won't know I am stressed unless I reveal it to you because I am clever and have a vested interest (which I like to call professionalism) in keeping myself to myself.
Dogs, however, are more honest than I am. They have no interest in being professional.
Today, I took my dogs out for a romp in a nearby field so that they could burn off some steam. About five minutes into our expedition, I noticed my coonhound, Roscoe, had his nose to the ground behind some weeds. I called him, and he did not come.
There is a dog training program advertised online as "The Dog Training Secret." It claims to be able to cure 19 of your dog's behavior woes in just 6 days. Truth is, there are no secrets in dog training - although there are trainers akin to snake oil salesmen who would suggest otherwise.
Based on my research, Chet Womach's "The Dog Training Secret" mostly is simple positive reinforcement training and behavior shaping with a clicker. Effective? Sure. Secret? Hardly.
Here is a list of phrases I catch myself saying often enough that I thought they were worth memorializing. Most of them are geared towards teaching dog owners to exercise patience when training their dogs. If you have any to add to the list, I would love to hear them.
HERE is a link to the ordinance.
HERE is a link to a PDF of the ordinance.
It does not take long for chewing-obsessed dogs to do a lot of damage. They can turn the legs of wooden furniture into sawdust, ventilate your shoes, make your shag carpet bald and un-upholsterer your furniture. The good news is, destructive chewing usually is easy to stop.
Here are a few tips for dealing with destructive chewing: